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Major contribution to Accounting and Finance Education Recognised with prestigious national award

14 Aug 2013

A rare national education award, last presented in 2000, has been jointly presented to the University of Sydney Business School's Associate Professor Mark Freeman and the UWA Business School's Associate Dean Professor Phil Hancock.

The Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand (AFAANZ)'s Outstanding Contribution to Accounting and Finance Education Award recognises the contributions to accounting and finance education made by the two over the last thirty years.

"This is outstanding recognition of work done by Associate Professor Freeman and Professor Hancock, said the University of Sydney Business School's Co-Dean, Professor David Grant. "It is also highlights the world class standard of both schools."

The AFAANZ award is judged on criteria which include receipt of international or national teaching awards; published research on teaching and learning; leadership in high-level activities; and innovation through the development and use of technologies.

Most recently, Professors Hancock and Freeman co-led the Development and Assessment of Accounting Learning Standards' project. Commissioned by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, the project aimed to define the minimum learning standards expected of accounting graduates.

This work has now been extended through the Achievement matters: External peer review of accounting learning standards' project, an initiative backed by the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC).

Also led by Professors Hancock and Freeman, the project is establishing a model for assessing whether students' work meets the learning standards. The project has funding from the Office for Learning and Teaching, the ABDC , CPA Australia and the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Over many years, Professors Hancock and Freeman have chaired the ABDC Teaching and Learning Network, been heavily involved with CPA Australia and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, pioneered an online software designed to facilitate teamwork in classes, and received numerous teaching awards.

Currently, however, Freeman is focussing his energy on the Achievement matters' project.

"The project is essentially about helping Australian institutions deliver on the capabilities employers really value in graduates - interpersonal and communication skills as well as critical reasoning and judgment when solving problems. It is critical then that any proposed improvements to learning and teaching are evidence based." Freeman said.

"What is different is the scale and approach to that benchmarking evidence. For example, in accounting there are 17 institutions voluntarily submitting evidence of these core capabilities for anonymous review by two external academics. To improve the likelihood that academics are on the same page in applying academic standards, reviews take place only after calibration initiatives. Really all we are doing is applying to learning outcomes the time-honoured approach to assessing research outcomes for publication." Freeman said.